Security forces raided the villages Manggume and Aminggaru, Omukia District, as well as in the villages Yenggernok and Agiyome in the Gome District, following the theft of an automatic firearm by members of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) on 1 February 2024. According to information received, on 3 and 4 February 2024, security force members burnt houses in various villages to the ground (see images, source independent HRDs) and arbitrarily tortured villagers.
One Papuan villager reportedly died because of the injuries he sustained due to the torture. At least three other civilians were injured after being tortured, including one pastor named Rev Eriak Waker. The torture occurred during his interrogation in the Yenggernok Village. The other two victims sustained more severe injuries and were hospitalised. The Military later claimed that all victims were associated with the TPNPB. The relatives and the victims themselves underlined that they were civilians and not affiliated with the armed resistance.
According to information received, security force members carried out a raid in the Manggume Village, Omukia District, on 4 February 2024, around 10.00 am. Mr Andinus Murib, 21, and Mr Devius Wanikbo, 19, were fixing the roof of a house when the security forces came to the villages. Villagers panicked and fled to the forest while Mr Murib and Mr Wandikbo were trapped on the roof. They were temporarily detained and tortured by security forces.
Mr Murib and Mr Wandikbo were admitted to the public hospital after losing consciousness due to the pain they experienced during the torture. On 5 February 2024, military members suggested transferring both patients to Timika, where the hospital was better equipped. However, the relatives rejected the offer. Instead, they brought Mr Murib and Mr Wandikbo back to the village and treated them with traditional medicine because they feared further violence or criminalisation by the authorities.
During the raid in Manggume on 4 February 2024, security forces encountered Mr Werinus Murib, 20, in the forest near the village around 11.15 am while collecting firewood. After being arrested, security force members reportedly tortured Mr Murib until he succumbed to the injuries he sustained. The pattern of injuries indicated that the security force member beat and kicked the victim’s head and body using bare hands and blunt objects. The body also had stabbing and slashing injuries. Witnesses saw joint security forces tying Mr Murib’s feet to a car and dragging him for a distance of 1 kilometre. Mr Murib died on the way to the hospital as a result of the injuries he sustained.
The pattern of attacks involving killings, torture, the destruction of houses, and the killing of livestock was also observed in the regencies Intan Jaya, Nduga, and Pegunungan Bintang, all located in the central highlands. This pattern indicates that these procedures are part of the security forces’ counterinsurgency strategy against guerrilla fighters. Armed resistance members hide among civilians and need the villages to supply their members with food and other essentials. The fighters are indigenous locals. Many are related to civilians living in the conflict areas. However, the presence of combatants among civilians is not sufficient reason to justify indiscriminate attacks directed against civilian settlements. Particularly in the case of air raids against small villages, a clear separation between civilians and targets can no longer be guaranteed. Strategies involving the deliberate destruction of civilian settlements and livestock cannot be justified under international law.
The use of extra-judicial execution, torture, and forced displacements during such raids amount to crimes against humanity as defined under the Rome Statue. While Indonesia has not yet been willing to become a party to the Rome Statute, the definitions provided in it are internationally recognised legal norms. An investigation by the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) into allegations of crimes against humanity is necessary and mandated by Indonesian law to reveal command structures, determine who authorised the attacks, and what security force units carried out the raids.